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RECAP: Cowboys Escape Manhattan With a Win

The Cardiac Cowboys are back, and scarier than ever.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at Kansas State Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

One play. Almost three hours of back and forth play between the Cowboys and the Wildcats came down to one play. What an emotional rollercoaster for fans of both teams.

It started with the Wildcats jumping out to a very quick 13-0 lead in the first 10:02 of the game on a pair of rushing touchdowns, one by QB Jesse Ertz and the other by Winston Dimel.

The Pokes rebounded, and 6:16 later, Ben Grogan put the Cowboys in front on the extra point try after Rudolph threw his second touchdown of the game on a beautiful 54 yard pass to tight end Blake Jarwin to tie the score at 13. Rudolph’s first score was a nice 12 yard catch and run by Jalen McClesky.

K-State briefly regained the lead with a field goal to make the score 16-14, but on the next OSU drive, Rudolph led the team on a 9 play, 75 yard touchdown drive capped by a 3 yard touchdown pass to James Washington to finish off the scoring for the half with the Pokes up 21-16.

The second half started worse than the first half did for the Pokes, with the first possession ending in a punt, the second “possession” ending with Barry J. Sanders fumbling a punt, and Rudolph throwing the first of his two interceptions for a pick six. Follow that up with an OSU punt and and another KSU touchdown (Ertz’s second rushing TD of the game), and you get a ton of OSU fans wondering what was going on and how the Pokes were going to win this game.

Rudolph closed the gap on the next possession, throwing a 34 yard touchdown to Austin Hayes to bring the Pokes within a safety. Kansas State answered with another touchdown to push the lead back to nine, and on the Cowboys next possession, Rudolph threw his second pick of the game on an admittedly insane pick by D.J. Reed.

After a Wildcat punt, Rudolph only needed 2 plays and 31 seconds to go 92 yards for his fifth and final touchdown pass of the day, completing an 82 yard bomb to James Washington for Washington’s 2nd receiving TD of the day.

After K-State’s fourth punt of the day, Rudolph and Co. had the ball on their own 20 yard line with a shade under five and a half minutes to go. Seven plays and 63 yards later, Chris Carson refused to go down on his game-clinching 17 yard touchdown run to give the Pokes their first lead in the game since the 8:20 mark of the third quarter. A 2 point conversion gave the Pokes a 43-37 lead with 1:46 left in the game.

Kansas State took the football with 1:46 and two timeouts. The Wildcats were knocking on the door, getting all the way down to the Cowboys’ three yard line. Then Kansas State committed offensive pass interference to put them on the OSU 18 yard line with four seconds left. On the final play, Ertz committed his only mistake of the game and threw a desperation pass into the end zone into the waiting arms of Cowboy DB Jordan Sterns for the game-sealing interception.

It was at this point that Cowboy country collectively let out the breath they had been holding since the Cowboys took the lead roughly an eternity ago. The Pokes had done it. As the “Voice of the Cowboys” Dave Hunziker put it, “The Cowboys steal one in Manhattan.” It wasn’t pretty, but good teams find a way to win, and that’s exactly what Mike Gundy and Co. did today.

Rudolph once again put up great numbers (29/38, 457 yards, 5 TDs), but showed he was also human with the two INTs. Guess you should have knocked harder Joel. I was very impressed when he stepped up in the pocket and ran for the 21 yard gain, instead of dancing around waiting for a receiver to get open, and ultimately taking the sack.

Washington (7 rec, 117 yards, 2 TDs) was having a sub-par day until Rudolph found him streaking over the middle for an 82 yard touchdown. While these numbers look impressive, they are actually considered to be average for Washington. Another good day for the Pokes WR1.

The one I was impressed with was the tight end/cowboy back Blake Jarwin. Jarwin had two huge catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. I would love to see Jarwin get more touches in the pass game, and believe that after today’s game, he will be. Is there such a thing as too many options for the QB to go to in the passing game? I don’t think so.

On the defensive side of the ball, Jordan Sterns was a monster. Not only did he have the game-clinching INT, but he also had 12 tackles, all solo. Vincent Taylor continued his dominance on the defensive line, claiming 6 tackles - again, all solo - three tackles for loss, and one sack.

As expected, the entire Kansas State offense ran through Jesse Ertz. Ertz had an ugly day passing (12/18, 87 yards, 1 INT), but made up for it on the ground, rushing 30 times for 153 yards and 3 TDs. The Wildcats were able to run as they pleased, and it seemed there was little the Cowboys could do to stop them. This is the entire reason I was ready to throw up when KSU made it to the Pokes’ three yard line with just a few seconds to go. I thought for sure they were going to run it in and kick the extra point for the win. Then the offensive pass interference was called and pushed the ‘Cats back to the 18 yard line, and I felt a bit better.

This win makes it five in a row for Coach Gundy, who recorded win #101 today. Former Oklahoma State University offensive coordinator Todd Monken is all over the new countdown for Coach Gundy.

Oklahoma State moves to 7-2* (5-1 in Big 12 play), and with the Baylor loss this week, moves up to second in the conference standings. The Cowboys have their last home game next week, as they play host to the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. but once again, the Big 12 doesn’t appear to have a night game. This week, it was Kansas vs. West Virginia that appeared to be flexed to the 6 p.m. slot, despite the schedule calling for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff in Morgantown. Here’s to hoping the same thing happens to the Cowboys, especially after I discovered this disheartening fact.